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August 9, 2009

Limbaugh’s Comparison: Getting it Reich

Limbaugh compares this symbol to a swastika. Sheesh.

Limbaugh compares this symbol to the Obama Administation's health care logo. Sheesh.

So Limbaugh lashed out because Pelosi claimed teabaggers were employing Nazi symbols as part of their health care agitation. (If there’s any doubt of the latter, by the way, just these two recent BNN posts offer examples at hand – 1, 2.) At this point, however — because Rush is the leading voice of the GOP, I guess — the media is all over the story necessitating all kinds of push back, including some pretty straight forward visual analysis.

You see the close parallel, don’t you?

(images via Sweetness and Light)

  • blauengel


  • robertdsc

    Not even close.
    I just wish someone in Congress would offer a resolution to censure that gasbag, just as the GOP did with Moveon for the Betrayus ad.

  • DanM

    Nothing for nothing, in that I’ve heard commentary calling out the use of the term “Obamacare” on the grounds that it is dismissively derogatory while at the same time raising a klaxon of Socialist alarm, the administration would have done well by all of us by not including Obama’s campaign logo in that image.
    I don’t think this is the right point in time nor the right opportunity for personal branding. It strikes me as pointlessly egoistic; it’s a distraction.

  • Victor F

    it doesn’t matter if there’s direct evidence or even the most general hint of a comparison. If they say it, it’s true. After all, it wouldn’t be on the radio if it wasn’t true!

  • OldMayfly

    Any historian here, please correct me, but I don’t remember seeing any Nazi symbol that was baby blue. Of course, the newsreels and newspaper photos of the time were black and white. But I’ve seen lots of WW II souvenirs and, of course, lots of movies which ranged from accurate to not so much.

  • DennisQ

    This is an attempt to make health care reform into a holy war like the annual flare-up about secular Christmas. Bill O’Reilly claims that “secular progressives” are out to destroy America.
    It’s a crowd thing, like doing the wave at baseball games. The real opponents of health care reform can’t answer a simple question like the one Chris Matthews posed, “What should we do with the 46 million uninsured?”
    Bush encouraged the fusion of church and state, even to the point of calling his foreign policy a “crusade.” Now that he’s out of office, his followers wander around in the desert seeking a cause that will unite them. Gott mit uns.

  • PS: Public Square

    While you may have a point about the logo being too personally connected to Obama; I could not disagree more when you say that this issue is a distraction. Limbaugh puts this pair of images out trusting that people will see the similarity of shape, the wings, the red pattern filling the circle below. He trusts the fact that arts programs, dismissed as elitist and unnecessary, have been stripped out of public education over the past thirty years. Stories like this one display the vast visual illiteracy that has resulted. And in the increased visual environment of the digital age, that can lead to trouble, because images can have great power.

  • DanM

    Oops, language. Apologies.
    Anyway — I didn’t mean to say that calling Limbaugh out on his shenanigans is the distraction. No, he’s out to cause partisan trouble no matter how many Americans are hurt because of them.
    The inclusion of Obama’s logo — itself — is the distraction. It allows those in the reflexive opposition to draw the conversation away from health care reform and gravitate toward the “hideous Saviour” meme that they seem to love so much.
    The logo is just unnecessary and, moreover and unfortunately, it plays directly to the paranoid chorus.

  • PS: Public Square

    A news story like this is created because we do not have visually literate population. By stripping arts from education, the country is left with people completely unprepared in the digital 24 hour visual media environment. This visual comparison is between two symbols, images with long associations that are designed to be clearly communicated. Yet, Limbaugh can utilize the superficial similarity in composition to try to tie health care with fascism.
    To begin with, Limbaugh discards the level political map of the country populated with the silhouettes of people, or the half circle of the sun framing the symbol. This visual settling of equality and hope provides an important context for the symbol.
    The Nazi eagle is perched atop a gridded globe containing the swastika; this is an image of power and domination. The half circle found in the eagle’s wings are a negative compositional reflection of the sun in the health care symbol. But instead of being inclusive, that half circle is reinforcing the sharp horizontal line of the eagle’s wings (suggestive of both hunting eagle and the wings of warplanes).
    While the the Nazi bird of prey may mimic the shape of the winged caduceus, their meanings are very different. The caduceus is an ancient symbol, but its association with medicine is quite recent. It has been used by the American Medical Corp since 1902 when it replaced the cross, but had been widely seen on the paper of a medical printer since the 19th century. The caduceus is the wand of Hermes and was used by printers as Hermes was the god of messengers. In fact is the rod of Asclepius that has the ancient association with medicine. But then, Americans have frequently recycled ancient symbolism in an effort create meaningful civic symbols for our pluralistic society.
    Due to the symbol’s long use by the American military, it may be more easily read as medical by veterans and service mean and women; thus reaching out to a large part of the population with stable (and government run) health care who are concerned about potential changes. I hope that the reason the Obama administration chose to use the caduceus, and not it’s ancient associations with wealth and commerce.

  • PS: Public Square

    While I agree that the administration may be relying too heavily on Obama’s personal popularity in using the logo; I think that part of the choice to use the logo was compositional. The close up of the red and white strips of the flag can read both as the planting rows of the heartland or as the transit that connects the urban cores. That is part of what made it such an amazing campaign logo. Place that in the context of the people standing on a level political map of the whole country and I think you have a symbol that can be read positively by a lot of different types of viewers. That visual reinforcing may have been strong enough to overcome any aversion to using a symbol so associated with the president.

  • A Reader

    Except for brutal implementation of Nazi ideology, the only major difference between the Nazis and the “Liberals” (both brands of non-Marxian socialism) is that the Nazis openly advocated eugenics while the “Liberals” implement dysgenics without advertising it.
    In other words:
    Nazism = socialism + eugenics
    “Liberalism” = socialism + dysgenics
    Here is a link to a brief analysis of these facts:

  • DanM

    Interpretation and creative rationalization can impart many subjectively meaningful associations to each component of Obama’s campaign logo (associations that may have even been intended by the originators).
    However, in light of the all the 2008 Presidential commercials, posters, emails and buttons, it’s likely and foreseeable that that portion of the health care graphic will be associated first, most often and more strongly with Obama — specifically — than with anything or anyone else.

  • Victor F

    Nature doesn’t care about the strongest or the best, it cares about the most adaptable. The “losers and misfits” your cited author derides may be more adaptable than the conservatives who refuse change at all costs. After all, in nature nothing stays the same. Change is the rule. The idea that evolution progresses with any set goal is a misinterpretation of the theory.

  • yg

    this reminds me of the upside down star within the gop elephant logo.
    know what the symbolism of an upside down star is? do they have a plausible rationale to explain their design?
    calling obama is a nazi is laughable on its face. it’s republicans who support the ethnic cleansing within palestine, it’s republicans who lead the charge to kill over a million innocent semitic iraqis for no good reason.

  • yg

    as rachel maddow pointed out in her friday show, it was republican senators johnny isakson (GA) and susan collins (ME) who introduced the living will provisions within the healthcare bill. can you say “set up and spike”?
    for many years, the VA has encouraged patients to attend workshops that instructed people in how to set up a living will. why had there been no previous outcry about that?
    it’s telling that we are the last country within the developed world to establish national healthcare. that’s a testament to how idiotic and gullible a people we are. we used to be known as a country that produced innovations. nowadays “innovation” stands for a new procedure designed to scam the masses and empty their pocketbook.

  • yg

    reading the abc link, i was reminded of something else. which notable republican family actually supported the nazis before the war? and was later sanctioned and had assets seized for “trading with the enemy”?
    sure, corporate media seizes upon the “obama, the nazi” smear while ignoring the evidence based storyline of an actual nazi supporter.
    the irony, it burns.

  • yg

    The caduceus is the wand of Hermes and was used by printers as Hermes was the god of messengers. In fact is the rod of Asclepius that has the ancient association with medicine.
    i always assumed the symbolism stemmed from a verse in the old testament:
    In Numbers 21, we are told that Moses made a bronze serpent on a rod to heal the people who had been bitten by poisonous snakes and save them from the fear of death. People really do die of fear. Even today the serpent on the rod is a sign of healing.

  • yg

    for a crowd that refuses to acknowledge evolution, they sure do cling to the notion of “social darwinism.”

  • stevelaudig
  • Tena

    They do, don’t they?

  • I’m just sayin’….

    I’m sure that the Obama logo was intentionally set up to look like a Nazi logo because:
    1. Americans really flock to and support all things from Nazi Germany;
    2. Obama really wants to kill all Americans by giving them affordable healthcare;
    3. Rush Limbaugh told me it was.
    Makes perfect sense.
    I have to go; I’m late for a birther party….

  • yg

    nazi imagery resonates with a particular group of people. old people. the generation who fought the war.

  • jtfromBC

    perhaps, but don’t forget
    Neo-Nazi Skinheads and Racist Rock:
    Youth Subculture of Hate
    …”Generally, neo-Nazi Skinheads’ views have varied. Some believe in orthodox Nazi ideology, while others adhere to a mixture of racism, populism, ethnocentrism and ultranationalist chauvinism, along with a hodgepodge of Nazi-like attitudes.
    Their numbers have grown substantially since Neo-Nazi Skinheads first appeared in the United States during the mid-1980s. Predictably, this growth has been matched by violence: since 1987, racist Skinheads have committed at least 43 murders in the United States as well as thousands of lesser crimes such as beatings, stabbings, shootings, thefts, and synagogue desecrations.
    In addition to World Church of the Creator, Skinheads in the U.S. have also linked up with other established hate groups, such as Aryan Nations, the Ku Klux Klan, and Tom Metzger’s White Aryan Resistance (WAR). ..”

  • ‘tude

    What I want to know is this: Why is it Obama’s campaign logo and not a US symbol of some sort? This is the country’s health care thing, not just his, right?

  • Victor F

    i’m with others in thinking the “branding” of the debate on legislation is a bit distracting, but after all, this isn’t an act yet, it’s still moving through the bowels of congress. Perhaps when it’s all over and done with the initiative will have a proper logo. This looks to me like a slide on a powerpoint presentation, not the official mark.

  • Kitt

    Just one thing. Take a look at this insignia HERE; it’s the medical insignia I wore on my uniform while in the Army. Which do you think the ‘Obama sign’ resembles more closely – the Third Reich’s eagle or the medical insignia I wore almost every day for three years?

  • Rufus

    Rush would know a caduceus if it bit him square on his butt.

  • Rufus


  • Rufus

    Yes, Rush wouldn’t know a caduceus if it bit him square on his butt because he is not an educated man. The blind leading the blind.

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